Tag Archives: Estonia

The Baltic States

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania aren’t the most glamorous tourist destinations on the planet. These three northern European nations are cold, lonely, and full of scowling drunks, but they’re also overflowing with history and charm. I had a wonderful time walking down ancient streets, exploring forests, checking out concentration camps and torture chambers (alright, ‘a wonderful time’ isn’t the best way to describe those experiences), and stuffing my face full of kebabs.

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My first stop was the Latvian capital of Riga, where I had sex with a statue of a horse and got chased by police for being a drunk. Fortunately, I escaped, or it would’ve been a very short holiday indeed.

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My journey took me to Riga’s Radio and TV Tower, which provided an epic view out over the city’s weird slums and dancing people.

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From there I headed to the drab and dreary Salaspils concentration camp, where children were harvested by the Nazis for their blood, before finishing the day with a climb to the top of St Peter’s steeple (no, I don’t mean his penis).

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I discovered that Latvian people are strange and moody, and they it’s completely normal to have a giant tank full of fish sitting next to the yoghurt at the supermarket.

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Moving on to Tallinn, Estonia brought with it a turn of good weather, which was perfect for drinking in the parks and molesting more statues. The views weren’t too bad, either!

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Nothing’s open in Tallinn on a Monday, but that didn’t stop me from exploring castles, climbing through Soviet-era buildings, getting addicted to pot and falling on a woman’s dog.

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Helsinki is the northernmost capital city on the planet, so it was a waste of time taking my G-string along. Still, I managed to sit on a turtle and annoy some old people, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

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Nobody does torture quite as well as the Soviets (well, my ex-girlfriend was pretty good at it, but that’s a story for another time), so my visit to the Patarei Sea Fortress Prison was a real opener. I was on my best behaviour, lest someone decide to cut my gizzards out and feed them to a dog.

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Parnu is Estonia’s summer capital, but when I went there I pretty much had the whole place to myself, so I took a long, romantic walk on my lonesome and then scoffed a whole pizza.

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I’m a rugged, outdoorsy type, so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to explore Estonia’s Soomaa National Park. I kayaked, I climbed trees, I lost all my clothes in the middle of a frozen bog…

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Charles Bronson isn’t really dead, and he spends his time checking out Vilnius, Lithuania! I followed him around all day, until he became upset and went home. I just wanted to be his friend…

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There’s a hill in Lithuania with about eleventy-bajillion crosses on it, and they call it – get this – the Hill of Crosses! I went there to count them all, but got bored and confused after getting to 53, so instead I embarrassed myself on a train. Weeeee!

Camping, Latvian style

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All roads lead to Riga, so I’ve spent the last few days back in the Latvian capital with my lady friend Marty. She’s smart and pretty and nice to me, and really quite pleasant for a Norwegian. Thankfully, she also has poor taste in men and a soft spot for a Gosfordian accent. One thing I’ll never let her do again, though, is plan a camping trip.

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Still looking good after a night of sleeping in sub-zero temperatures

We headedout towards the beach at 8:45pm, as the sun was setting behind the Riga skyline, and made it to the sand just as the northern European twilight was fading. We set up the tent and the fire (alright, Marty set up the fire after my disastrous attempt) as the cold settled around us, and when everything was organised we lay back on the sand and ate good food and drank good alcohol under a full moon. It was a fantastic night with fantastic company.

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It would be even more romantic without the empty beer cans in the background

Bedtime was a different story, though. No, no, I’m not going to get rude, it’s just that Latvia gets really, really, really bloody cold at night. Seriously, there are snowmen with willies warmer than a Latvian evening. And despite Marty having spent most of her life in climates too cold for human habitation, we were unprepared for the elements and spent the evening shivering and fighting off the effects of frostbite. Seriously, the next morning I was counting my fingers and toes to make sure none had dropped off in the evening.

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Showing off my sausage. Marty was not impressed

It was the perfect way to end my (longer than expected) trip to Latvia. Now, it’s time to head south to the beautiful land of Lithuania, where dragons roam wild and free and all the women  are strong enough to bend iron bars with their bare hands. I won’t be going camping down there, though – well, unless one of those Lithuanian women with the strong hands promises to keep me warm at night!

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Checking off all the rules we broke. While we were taking this photo, a handsome policeman with a bushy moustache stopped us and told us to leave the beach immediately

Bog off!

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I love getting out amongst nature. Fresh air, plenty of trees, a few birds, and no dickheads to annoy me – bushwalking and camping and all those sorts of things are grouse. So, while in Estonia, there was no way I was going to miss out on seeing the country’s beautest nature reserve, Soomaa National Park. It was an awe-inspiring day in a remote and beautiful place, even if I did end up nearly getting eaten by inbred cannibals.

Soomaa translates to ‘land of bogs’, and is full of wetlands, forests and rivers. It’s an unusual ecosystem, with the strangest thing being the fact that massive floods of four or more metres roll through the park each year when the snow melts. This ‘fifth season’ came early this year – the floods usually hit in April – so I was able to check out the park without having to rent a submarine.

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I’m like Indiana fuckin’ Jones!

Soomaa is a good 45 minutes out of Parnu, so I got in touch with Aivar from soomaa.com to arrange a lift and the use of a canoe. After he dropped me by the banks of the tranquil Halliste river, I was truly by myself in the middle of nowhere, with only a few shonky-looking hand-built huts and thousands of ghostly trees for company. With five hours to explore this bizarre land, I headed out into the wilderness, along a rickety wooden walkway, hoping no deranged Estonians would leap out of the scrub to rape me.

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I certainly wasn’t ‘board’ during this trip, haha!

The meandering three-kilometre track too me up to Soomaa’s famous bog, which is seen as the pride of Estonia. Shit, you know you’re struggling when your country’s pride and joy is a bloody mud pit. As soon as I stepped out of the trees and into the barren wasteland of the bog, the icy wind dropped the temperature 10 degrees, and I was freezing as I set out into the tundra

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Hail to the king, baby!

You know how sometimes you get so cold that you actually feel hot? Yeah, well, ah, that must’ve happened to me, so I stripped off all my clothes and started trotting around the bog like a dickhead. While I was carrying on like a pork chop with my sausage out, a little old bloke with a woolen cap on his head and a big smile on his came out of nowhere and started shouting at me in Estonian. I assumed he was complimenting me on the size of my penis, until he started wiggling his little finger in the air and cackling like a lunatic. I quickly put my clothes back on and left in tears.

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It was so cold that the best way to describe my genitals at this point is ‘child-like’

The return leg took me through another section of the forest, where signs regularly reminded me of the record heights of past flood waters – some far above my head. I didn’t see or hear too many animals or birds, which was probably a good thing, because I wasn’t really in the mood to get eaten by a wolf.

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During the Fifth Season, Soomaa gets wetter than Magda Szubanski’s undies whenever she walks past Pizza Hut

I spent the afternoon canoeing down the Halliste towards the village of Riisa, a six-kilometre journey that took me past farms, under bridges and through dense thatches of trees. Each time I rounded a corner I was faced by scenery straight out of a fairy tale – glassy water reflected magical trees, all of it under the blanket of endless silence.

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I can hear the dueling banjos…

It’s possible to complete a 12km paddle, but I chose to start at halfway to have more time to go bushwalking, and I’m glad I did. There’s no point in rushing through Soomaa, so I was glad to be able to take my time floating down this meandering river. It was a relaxing and fairly easy aquatic journey, even though I was by myself, and I managed to make it to the end by the time my wanking spanners dropped off.

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One of the rare times I wasn’t crashing into something

Aivar is usually more than happy to pick customers up at the end of their paddle, but he wasn’t able to today, so I was forced to take public transport. My bus trip through Estonia’s countryside was bizarre and confusing, but I’m happy to say that I made it back without being bashed, raped or eaten.

The nearest bus stop for those exploring Soomaa is in the village of Riisa, which is comprised of two weather-beaten huts and a dying dog. After a 20-minute wait I managed to flag down a bus and charm the driver with my mastery of the Estonian language (I managed to say “Parnu”), but he just shook his head and motioned for me to get off. I got off and stood around for a few minutes in confusion, until another bus rocked up from the opposite direction. When the door opened I was surprised to see the same driver. “Parnu?” I asked, and this time he shook his head and I climbed aboard.

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Lovely downtown Joesuu – urban slums in the middle of nowhere

The bus didn’t go to Parnu, though. It went to Joesuu, a creepy little village where the driver barked at me in Estonion to get off the bus. Trust me on this one, you don’t wanna go to bloody Joesuu. There’s a boarded-up factory, a bunch of strange unit blocks that look out of place in such a rural setting, a burnt-out car and some of the ugliest locals you could ever have the misfortune to meet. As I wandered around, not knowing where to go or what to do, these hicks watched me with their crossed eyes, while their black tongues flicked from their toothless mouths. I was a long way from home, with no idea how to get out of Hicksville, Estonia.

As the afternoon wore on, the creeps started crowding around me, rubbing their tummies and reaching out at me, as if I was a home-delivered hot meal. The thought crossed my mind that the freaks of Joesuu probably live on the flesh of lost travellers, so I tied up my boots while keeping a keen eye on the Estonians, certain that I’d have to sprint back to Parnu if I was going to make it out of there alive. I was just about to start running when a bus came out of nowhere and pulled up, sending the hungry locals scattering like bugs. When the door opened, wouldn’t you know it, the bus driver was the same bloke as before! I climbed aboard and made it out of there safely, ready to have more adventures…

 

Parnu: Centre of the Universe

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It’s time to get out of Tallinn, so today I headed to the world famous city of Parnu! PARNU! PARNUUUUUUU! What, you haven’t heard of it? It’s a little place on the western coast of Estonia, and the country’s summer capital. It’s where all the rich folk from Tallinn head when the weather stops being so damn cold, and is a bit of a resort town. However, I decided to visit out of season and in the middle of the week, so it’s been deader than a married woman’s libido.

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Parnu’s bustling main street

There’s not a lot to Parnu, but what there is of it is pleasant enough. There’s a touristic main street with cute little wooden buildings and plenty of souvenir shops, a few parks that are, well, there, and lots of restaurants and bars scattered around the place. There’s also a shop for the city’s alkos.

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The girl in the shop was shocked but impressed by my Raiders jersey

Parnu’s most famous landmarks are its twin breakwalls, which each extend more than two kilometres into the ocean. They’re not overly impressive, but dickhead here obviously had to walk all the way out to the end of one of them, and scrambling over all those rocks wasn’t an easy (or fast task). Tradition states that if a person makes it to the end while holding the love of their life the whole way, they’ll stay together forever. So, of course, I held my dick – I know you’ll always be there for me, baby.

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I look like I’ve got a bad case of crabs. I don’t though… swear

There’s a wide, white-sand beach a few hundred metres south of the centre of Parnu, and I’m sure it would be lovely under the right conditions (say, 25 degrees, with heaps of cute Estonian sheilas frolicking around in tiny bikinis, maybe getting a bit lezzy with each other, and heaps of cold beer), but it’s a little bit creepy when the temperature is in single digits and even that’s outnumbering the people on the sand. Still, I was treated to a delightful sunset and one of the more unsual beach walks I’ve ever had.

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Goodbye, Mr Sun (actually, that sounds like an Asian remake of Goodbye, Mr Chips)

It’s easy to see that Parnu would be a great place to stay when the weather’s warm and the whole town is humming with happy people, but it’s a little bit sleepy and lacking in interesting things to do at any other time. The main reason I’m here is to visit the nearby Soomaa National Park, which I’ll be doing tomorrow. It’s probably for the best – there’s only so many times you can walk along the bloody breakwall!

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Alright, who let off the nuclear bomb?

Beer of the day:

I smashed three pints of Saku at Steffani’s, but I didn’t smash Steffani, because it’s a pizza shop, not a lady. I’ve gotta say, Saku is a fantastic beer – really clean and clear, and so bloody easy to drink. Puts most Aussie beers to shame, so it’s no wonder it’s the pride of Estonia!

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Kebab of the day:

Today’s kebab was a pizza, which I also enjoyed at Steffani’s. Estonian pizzas are weird, because they coat everything in a thick layer of blue cheese, but it was a top meal after not having eaten anything of substance in two days.

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My time in an Estonian prison

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If there’s a more miserable place on Earth than Tallinn’s Patarei prison, I’m yet to find it. With a long history of bloodshed, cruelty, torture and pain, this former fortress and jail is a wet, smelly, harsh reminder of Estonia’s bleak history – and it absolutely should not be missed.

Built in 1840 as a sea fortress for the Russian Empire, the conditions inside the concrete nightmare proved to be uninhabitable, with disease running rife through the halls as temperatures remained below freezing year-round. With soldiers dying from simply spending time there, it was used as a monstrous storage facility until, in 1920, it was turned into one of the most notorious prisons the world has ever known.

Patarei had a number of operators over the years, and each put their own horrible spin on the experience. The Nazis used it as an internment and death camp in the 1940s, and the Soviets kept the party going when they took over in 1944, sometimes cramming as many as 5000 poor bastards into its walls at a time. Even after Estonia achieved freedom from the Soviet Union in 1990, the centre was still used as a prison, until finally being closed in 2005.

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The prison is open all day, every day (except Mondays) during the summer, but during the colder months it’s only available as part of a tour company. Thankfully, they cost only eight Euro Spacebux, are easy to book, and the tour guide provides a fascinating insight into the brutal history of the site.

Life as a prisoner in Paterei sounded like a riot, with pretty much every human right set out by the United Nations well and truly stepped on. Tiny rooms that could barely fit 16 prisoners were regularly used to hold 40 or more at a time, and murder, butt-rape and bashings were a part of everyday life. Due to the wet and cold conditions, disease flowed freely through the prison, with little treatment for the inmates, who were usually left to die. The entire precinct was shut off from natural light and, in winter, the temperatures regularly dropped below -20, with not a lot in the way of heating or even blankets. As my tour guide say, “It wasn’t a place where any human should have been.”

And if the drab concrete citadel is rough, the creatures who once inhabited it were far worse – and I’m not just talking about the rapists and murderers who were locked up in there. The guards were brutal, regularly bashing prisoners, or pouring boiling water on them, or starving them. It should come as no surprise that there was a suicide attempt every couple of days, and prisoners regularly chopped off their own limbs just to spend a few weeks in the facility’s hospital. It’s incredible to think this place was in use just 11 years ago.

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Today, the prison is every bit as harsh as it ever was, but thankfully it’s a lot easier to get into and out of it. Hallways lay silent, with Soviet-era typewriters and telephones rotting away in dark corners. Cells piled to the ceiling with rubbish stare back through rusting doors. Everything stinks of rotting wood and stagnant water, and voices echo down corridors that once heard nothing but screams.

Torture chambers that look like something out of a horror movie, and were once a secret shame of the Soviet Union, now lay open to visitors. Execution rooms, buried deep in the bowels of Patarei are riddled with bullets and heaving with ghosts. If not for the peeling paint, it would look like it was abandoned yesterday. One wing is closed off due to being infested by some sort of terrifying mold that causing anyone who enters to spontaneously vomit blood.

While insane prison guards and bloodthirsty inmates are long gone from Patarei, it’s still home to an assortment of weirdos. It’s become a favourite haunt of loopy artists, who wander the grounds collecting bits of wood and metal to build hulking robots and all sorts of other strange stuff. Don’t startle them, because I’m sure they bite.

The tour took nearly two hours, and was a fascinating look into a deranged and horrible place. Yeah, I reckon I might be on my best behaviour for the rest of my time in Estonia!

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Finnish Him!

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Today, the Drunk and Jobless World Tour rolled on to Helsinki – the biggest city in Finland and the northernmost capital in the world. And it feels like it, because the place is bloody freezing! Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if the mayor is a penguin.

Actually, I would be, because penguins make notoriously poor public officials and their short, stubby wings make it difficult for them to sign any paperwork that would lead to the betterment of the city.

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At least I didn’t have to worry about being overcome by the crowds…

I cruised to Helsinki from Tallinn aboard a near-empty Linda Line ferry, and the 90-minute trip was pleasant enough. Once out of the harbour in Tallinn, there’s not a lot to see for the next hour or so, but once the boat neared Finland the scenery becomes spectacular. The islands in the archipelago (great word) that spreads out from Helsinki are dotted with all sorts of weird and wonderful mansions and shacks, and all kinds of bizarre sea birds circle the sky on the approach to the city. The harbour at Helsinki is bloody nice, with fancy buildings and kooky churches hanging around, just waiting to be explored.

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Finns drive on the wrong side… remember that

Unlike Riga and Tallinn, Helsinki feels like a truly modern city. There are big buildings and filthy Romanian beggars and people zipping all over the place, but it’s still easy to walk around (well, it probably isn’t in the middle of winter when it’s -30. Unless you’ve got a damn snowmobile or something). The symbol of the city is the Helsinki Cathedral, so I rolled along to check that out.

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A sexy man [left] and some sorta church thing
To the north of that is the densely-populated Kallio district, full of sex shops and strip clubs and crammed-in apartment blocks and dodgy-looking junkies. Shit, I felt right at home. It’s also home to the Kallio Church, a granite beast that apparently ‘represents National Romanticism with Art Nouveau influences’ according to le Wikipedia – whatever the fuck that means.

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Leanier than the Leaning Tower of Pizza

I then made my way over to the site of the 1952 Olympics, which is a brisk half-hour strut from the harbour. Unlike Munich, the precinct isn’t particularly interesting or beautiful, and the stadium itself is currently closed for renovations – and unlike when a woman is ‘closed for renovations’ I wasn’t willing to brave it for a trip inside. While at the Olympic precinct, I did however see two of the greatest sporting events in the history of mankind. One set of old fogies were practicing tai-chi (what is it with Euros and this most boring of martial arts?) and another playing fucking COIGHTS. I felt like giving them all gold medals for being dickheads.

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Still keen to spend a day at the beach, I headed over to some joint called Suomenlinna, where I made a valiant attempt to go for a swim – and made it as far as taking my jumper off because it wa about six degrees and the water had fucking icebergs in it. Honestly, I was expecting to get bitten on the arse by a polar bear or flashed by a narwhal or something it was so chilly, so I just sat on the achingly cold sand and felt a bit sorry for myself.

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Colder than a moose’s arsehole

After taking a delightful stroll along the waterfront to the west of Helsinki, taking in frigid islands and leafy peninsulas and imposing factories, I found myself in a quaint waterside cemetery. You won’t believe this, right, but as I was strutting between the tombstones, a ZOMBIE jumped out at me! He was drooling and slobbering like Craig Thomson in a strip club, calling out for brains, all that. And the weirdest thing was that he just happened to pop up from behind a tombstone with a really funny name.

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Smoooooooooooo!

Alright, I’ll let you in on a secret – the zombie was actually me, and a few mourners didn’t latch onto my sense of humour and started yelling out at me. I realised then that it was time to get out of Helsinki before they threw me out, and headed back to the harbour to make the relaxing trip back to Ye Olde Tallinn. But that wasn’t the end of the day, because I ended up with a stint in prison…

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Oh yeah, and I rode a fucking TURTLE!

Welcome to Tallinn, where nothing’s open on a Monday!

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If you’re thinking of coming to Tallinn, Estonia, drop everything (except if you’re holing a baby) and do it. Just don’t come on a Monday, because most of the attractions will be closed and you’ll have to do what I did – get drunk and make your own fun.

Actually, I’d recommend doing that no matter what day you’re here. There’s no better way to explore a strange city than with a cold beer in your hand.

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I had my heart set on seeing the Seaplane Harbour maritime museum in the east of the city, so set off in that direction with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. On the way I passed the St Olaf’s Church (dunno who the fuck Olaf is, but I bet he’s got a beard), which promised a delightful view for the bargain-basement price of two Euro Spacebux, so I trotted inside and looked around for the elevator.

“You must walk up,” said an older lady with a smile. And then, under her breath, “You look like you could do with the exercise.” I don’t know why she would say that in English, rather than Estonian, but it’s my story so it’s what she said.

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The viewing platform is apparently at the 62 metre mark, but let me tell you, it seems higher than that. The staircase is steep and dark and winding, and I was huffing and puffing like Chrissie Swan on a treadmill by the time I reached the summit. It was all worth it, though, because the view is outstanding. While the walkway around the edge of the steeple is as narrow as David Gallop’s penis, which makes it difficult to relax up there, you won’t find a better view over the rooftops of this ancient city.

I made it out to the maritime museum but, unlike my ex-girlfriend’s legs the second some cunt who isn’t me walks by, it was closed. Apparently all the museums in town shut up shop on Mondays, for some reason that surely only makes sense to Estonians, so I was left with two options – get on the turps, or sit around with a frown on my face and my pecker in my hand. I found a supermarket that sold beer, and I was on my way, skipping through Tallinn on a spectacular day.

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On my travels I stumbled upon some weird-as-fuck concrete behemoth called the Patareisadama piiripunkt. I don’t know what that means, and I don’t know anything about the building other than the fact it looks like something out of a Soviet nightmare. It might’ve been ferry terminal at some point, but with its criss-crossing concrete bridges and stern concrete walls covered with graffiti (and probably wee), it stands as a reminder of darker times.

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It’s been a week or so since I’ve been to the beach, and Tallinn’s by the water, so I decided to stop by one of Estonia’s most beautiful beaches to pull a few rays. It was a sunny day, so I couldn’t work out why no-one else was splashing about by the water. Well, the fact it was about eight degrees probably had something to do with it, but that didn’t stop me stretching out for a relaxing afternoon in (what passes for) the sun.

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Things went tragically wrong when, full of grog, I decided to do some handstands. The booze flowing through my veins obvious affected my balance, and I fell onto an elderly lady’s dog. Fortunately the dog wasn’t injured, but it bit me on the leg, and then the lady started hitting me on the head with her bag and shouting. I can only assume she was yelling, “Rape! Rape!” because a number of tough-looking guys ran out of nowhere and started snarling at me in some weird language. I figured they weren’t asking me my shoe size, so I did the only thing I could think of – I threw sand at them and ran away into a park, where I hid under a pile of leaves until the stopped looking for me.

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When I emerged, I found myself out the front of the world famous Kadriorg Palace, which is definitely very pink. After my ordeal, I simply sat in the sun, on a bench between an old Estonian woman with a scarf wrapped around her head and a duck (I mean the duck was on the other side of me – the old woman didn’t have a fucking duck wrapped around her head) and enjoyed the pinkness of this special place. And then, when the banality of life beat me into submission, I decided to indulge my massive love of pot.

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Beer of the day:
I found AC/DC beer! I wasn’t able to buy any because they didn’t have any coldies, but this one gets the gong by virtue of having something to do with Acca Dacca. To those about to drink until they pass out in an Estonian back alley we salute you!

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Kebab of the day:
I was starving as I waltzed into Istanbul Kebab, so I was very upset that it took them about 45 minutes to prepare my Adana kebab. Their hot chip machine was on the fritz, but they made up for it with a free beer and a cracking meal. An Adana kebab is apparently a few sausages, a bunch of chips, and a heap of salad, so I can only throw my hands in the air and admit I don’t have a fucking clue what the definition of a kebab is anymore. It was delicious, though, so who gives a shit?

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Tallinn Callin’

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I can’t spend my whole time in Europe hanging out with a pretty girl in Riga (as fun as that sounds), so today I headed off to the ancient city of Tallinn, Estonia. It promised all sorts of history and fun stuff to see, and it delivered in spades. In return, I acted like a drunken idiot.

I hopped on an Ecolines bus (just 16 Euro Spacebux) and it was an easy, comfortable trip. The outskirts of Riga are sparse and depressing, looking straight out the Cold War era, but soon give way to pretty farms and dense forests. While the ride between Latvia and Estonia isn’t the most incredible journey of all time, it’s certainly pleasant.

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All aboard the party bus!

And it would’ve been a lot more pleasant if the angry Latvian dude in the seat next to me didn’t keep shouting sweet nothings at me while I tried to sleep. I don’t know what he was saying, but from the way his eyes were spinning in his skull and he kept balling his hands into fists, I’m guessing he wasn’t asking me out for coffee and croissants.

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Where dreams go to die

The bus dropped me off a couple of kilometres from my ultimate destination of Tallinn’s Old Town, and so my first impression of the city wasn’t the best – endless cement buildings stood sternly by as I trundled along to my hostel. Things improved as I made my way through the wide, open spaces of Freedom Square, and then I was overwhelmed as I stepped into the Old Town proper.

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The whole place is built on a really shitty angle

There are castles and churches and steeples and weird little buildings everywhere, meaning that stepping into Tallinn’s Old Town is like stepping into a time machine (although, if I actually did have a time machine, I’d use it to go back in time and ride a dinosaur). There’s so much to see and it’s all so well preserved that it’s easy to spend hours just swaggering down alleyways and finding out what’s around the next corner.

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Hello, church

Unlike Riga’s Old Town, which feels like a functioning part of the actual city, Tallinn’s version feels more like a tourist attraction, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are olde timey stores, historical music, and all sorts of idiots hanging out in flowing dresses and bonnets and shit like that. It gives a good impression of what this place was like before the Nazis and the Russkis got their hands on it. It’s such an inspirational city that I actually acted very sensibly, by which I mean I got drunk in front of ancient buildings:

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I love being me

and had a threesome with some sexy statues:

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If they didn’t make them so fuckable, I wouldn’t have to fuck them!

On first impressions, Tallinn reminds me of a much bigger, much busier version of Carcassonne, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. It’s bloody cold and the streets are confusing, but it has a good feel to it and I look forward to checking it out in more depth tomorrow.

Beer of the day:
It’s actually pretty tough to find a shop selling cans of beer in Tallinn’s Old Town, but I’m a survivor, and found a few cans of something called A. Le Coq Alexander (literally, Alexander Juice). It was cold and wet and alcoholic, but the taste was on holidays. Perhaps they should try getting the juice from someone other than Alex next time.

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Kebab of the day:
I had a rough time locating a kebabery, too, but I’m happy to say that the mission was worth it. It takes a lot to surprise me, but my first kebab in Estonia did just that. Its unusual presentation and unexpected mix of ingredients and spices left a last impression every bit as awe-inspiring as Tallinn’s famous walled city. I bought it from a place called Grill Stop, it came with no wrap, but plenty of succulent meat, and it was awesome.

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Latvia is an unusual place with unusual people

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After spending almost a week in Latvia, I think I’m in a position to say that this place is a bit weird. Wait, scratch that, it’s a bat-shit insane country that is incredible to experience for that very reason.

The locals are serious to a fault, which takes a bit of getting used to as an Australian. I’m used to saying G’day to strangers, maybe giving them a bit of a wave. In Latvia, the response to that is to look at me as if I’m either a sex fiend, or a retard – or a mixture of both. Even at shops, I haven’t received a single smile since I got here. And I usually get heaps of smiles, because I’m lovely.

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Gimme head, baby

The supermarkets here are fucking bonkers. I headed into a place called Rimi, which is a gigantic warehouse where all the actual food and groceries are hidden behind rows and rows of toys, camping equipment, makeup and other crazy stuff. I guess it makes sense – I’ve often wandered into a shop to buy a six-pack of pies and a box of condoms and thought, “I wish I could also update my wardrobe and purchase a new basketball hoop while I’m here.”

The supermarket also had a massive fish tank right next to the milk – in what bizarre world does that make sense. “Oh, I’ll just check out this massive fuck-off fish before I grab a couple of litres of goat milk and a six-pack of frozen dog paws.”

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This makes as much sense as Scott Ludlam’s political career

There’s a definite upside to Latvian supermarkets, though, because their alcohol selection is out of this world. It seems like a quarter of the joint was dedicated to booze, with rows and rows of cheap beer, cheap spirits, and reasonably cheap Aussie wine just waiting to be guzzled. They also sell beer in two-litre plastic bottles –  bet the Latvian lovelies would be impressed by that when a fella drags one of those out during a romantic meal!

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Chicks dig the bad boy look

I spent this arvo exploring a forest on the outskirts of Riga with a lady friend of mine and her dog. The forests here are weirdly quiet and full of people aimlessly wandering around in long coats, looking as if they’d rather be anywhere else in the world. The forests have an eerie, lonely quality to them, even when located in or around populated areas. Abandoned houses stand rotting among the ghost-like trees, and empty beer cans lie everywhere.

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Fun fact: I vomited on a from last time I was in Cambodia

We ended up at a small lake that was ringed by tall pine trees and a couple of menacing Soviet-era housing blocks that served as a reminder of Latvia’s troubled past. While Riga is cold and the terrain harsh, the locals don’t spend their Saturdays too diffrerently from Australians. A few beers over a BBQ with mates, or taking the kids to the park to let them have a run around. Maybe drink a litre or two of black balsam, head home to bash the missus, that sorta thing.

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Or maybe they’ll just do some tai chi

Oh well, that’s it for Riga (well, for now, at least) and it’s time to hop on a luxury bus to Tallinn, the mystical capital of Estonia, one country to the north of Latvia. If it’s even half as barmy as Latvia, I’ll have plenty of stories to share. Hell, even if it’s not wacky, I’ll just drink until something funny happens…

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Beer of the day:
The cheapest beer in Latvia is some swill called Walter. Going by the taste, I’m assuming there’s some falt bloke called Walter who simply pisses in the cans before they get shipped off to the supermarket, but I’m giving it my beer of the day anyway. Just brush your teeth after downing one, or people will think you’ve been playing drinking games with Todd Carney.

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Kebab of the day:
While my lady friend put the kybosh on my plans to have a kebab today, I decided to fight for my right to party have something resembling a kebab by making fajitas for dinner. They were delicious and if you reckon they don’t count as kebabs then you can go fuck yourself.

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Climbing Peter’s Steeple

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After such a sombre few hours at the Salaspils Concentration Camp, I climbed back aboard the train and was pleased to find myself sitting directly across from one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen in my life. Seeing as my Latvian is somewhat lacking, I went with the old classic of a wink and blowing a bit of a kiss to let her know I’m single and interested, but she just looked at me like she’d caught me eating urinal cakes. Broken-hearted, I put it down to the fact that Latvians aren’t exactly the most excitable bunch and trundled off the train – at which point I realised that my fly was open. And it was just the day that I’d decided to wear my undies with the holes in them. Sorry, pretty girl on train.

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It’s Latvia’s answer to Red Rooster

After downing my sorrows with a few tins of cheap beer in one of de repeblik de Riga’s many parks, I decided to spend the arvo getting high. No, not by smoking drugs like my ex-girlfriend some sort of crack whore, I mean I climbed up something really tall. Yeah, I got on top of St Peter’s steeple, which sounds like how I spent most of my afternoons back when I was a choir boy.

St Peter’s Church was built back in 1209, so it’s old as fuck, so I’ve got no bloody idea how I was able to catch a friggin’ elevator to the top. Maybe St Peter was a time travelling space mutant or something, who knows? I asked the woman who runs the elevator but, in true Latvian style, she just humphed and went back to Tindering blokes on her iPhone.

Please swipe right on me, Ursula!

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“Hey, I can see my moped from here!”

The view from the top is stunning, and despite the high price (nine Euro Spacebux) it’s the only way to get a true appreciation of the layout of the city. I could look out and see the spot where I drank a beer in the park with a homeless Romanian dude, the place where I was almost arrested by Latvia’s Finest, and all the spots where I was turned down by Latvian women. It was grouse.

I was up the top there, all alone, when the doors to the elevator opened and a loudmouthed American wearing a bright red shirt with pictures of fruit on it stepped out, his trap flapping enough to create a stern breeze that almost knocked me over. “Oh yeah, greaaaaaaaaaat,” he said upon seeing the view. “Oh, it’s sooooooooo high. Geeze, guys, they should’ve given us oxygen tanks before we came up. These Europeans are just so dang good at building towers and it’s not, like, every singly building in America is bigger than this.”

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Looking back over the Robert Hughes Tower

The Seppo’s chums guffawed at his razor-sharp wit and started slapping each other high fives while everyone else in the placed rolled their eyes. The loudmouth went back to talking about how much better is at building things, and it really ruined the mood, so I knew I had to do something. The enjoyment of everybody was in my hands (I know a little Thai chick who works at the massage parlour who says the same thing), and I knew I had to do something.

The next time the fool started yapping on about how America is better at building things than anyone else, I piped up and said, “Yeah, you know what else America is really good at building? Dickheads like you, mate.”

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Admit it, I’m sexy

The loudmouth was shocked into silence while the other tourists cheered wildly and started jumping up and down with joy. Even his friends shook their heads and left him by himself, on ther verge of tears. Once again, I had saved the day, and I took my rightful spot as the hero of Riga.

As for what happened after that, well, that’s a story for another day, but the end result is that I’ve decided to hang out in Riga for another couple of days, rather than heading off to Sigulda as planned. Don’t worry, the Tour is still in full swing, with my next stop being the lovely city of Tallinn, in Estonia. Hope they’ve got plenty of booze…

Beer of the day:
I smashed a lot of beers today, so let’s give it to, I dunno, Livu. It tasted pretty good and didn’t give me diarrhea, so it’s good as gold according to me. Honestly, there’s not a bad beer over here – just walk into a shop, grab a mixed-bag of cans, and get fucking smashed!

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Kebab of the day:
Wanting to provide you, my drunken readers, the best guide to the many kebabs of Europe, I needed to find a third restaurant to eat at today, which proved a challenge because there are only two kebab shops in Riga’s Old Town. I finally tracked down Kebab Fix over near the railway station, and I was a bit suss on it from the get-go. As well as being tucked away near a supermarket, it was run entirely by teenage girls. Well, looks can be deceiving, because the wrap was awesome! It was stuffed with meat and coleslaw (which works!) and was all tucked in nicely, so they get extra points for style. All in all, it was the best kebab so far.

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Did I find the greatest love the world has ever known?
The closest I went was accidentally knocking over this weird scarecrow woman while feeling her tits. Awkward.

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